Bricker vetos charter election off of May ballot

Citing that the Bay City Council should focus on Charter Compliance with the current charter rather than focusing on changing it, Bay City Mayor Mark Bricker has vetoed the ordinance passed calling for a special election for charter changes.

According to Bay City Secretary David Holubec, Bricker had five days to veto the ordinance as stated in the city’s charter. Bricker delivered his veto of the special election Tuesday evening.

The ordinance was approved to be placed on the May ballot during last Thursday’s city council meeting and was the subject of two town hall meetings. The biggest change to the charter would be to change the city of Bay City’s form of government from mayor to city manager with other specific charter amendments as well.

“I do not believe the intent of council was guided to improve organizational effectiveness,” Bricker stated. “This is supported by the lack of council effort to examine concerns outlines in the charter commission finding as well as little to no effort to seek input from city directors and employees.

“The intent was not focused on improving the city’s overall effectiveness, but only changing the form of government,” Bricker stated. “I believe proposing a form of government change is not appropriate at this time.”

In the veto letter, which was delivered to Holubec Tuesday evening, Bricker cited three reasons for his veto of the charter election.

The first item was the charter commission.

The letter states “The city of Bay City was obligated to establish a Charter commission where nine citizens were appointed to seek and make recommended changes to the Charter that would help improve the overall operation of the organization. Nine volunteers met for more than six months, compiled and presented a written report with their findings. Upon the report being filed, the council “shall within 10 days, make copies available to the public at city hall and publish a synopsis of the report in the official city newspaper. The council shall consider the report at a public hearing with 30 days of receiving it.”

Bricker stated there was no synopsis of the report published in the paper nor was there a public hearing held within 30 days.

“It is my recommendation that council focus on the charter compliance with the current charter rather than focusing on changing it,” Bricker stated.

The second area was the item dealing with the mayor’s pay.

“It is of great concern that city council hasn’t and was not optimistic about clarifying the mayor’s compensation and what factors are considered in setting the compensation at the Jan. 24 meeting,” Bricker stated. “This was clear when one council member stated that they wished to address this after the filing deadline, when he can see the candidates running.

“If there are expectations of what the compensation will be and factors considered in setting the mayor’s compensation, that would likely only be known by current city councilmembers,” Bricker stated. “I believe it would also give unfair knowledge to any current councilmembers planning to run for mayor. Failing to establish clear pay guidelines will impact prospective candidates for mayor, citizens’ consideration of mayoral candidates as well as citizens’ consideration of which form of government to support.

“It is my opinion that a job description that includes a set salary and all factors to be considered be adopted by city council immediately,” Bricker stated. “This job description should be communicated for both forms of government, so they are adequately prepared.”

The last item on the veto concerned the upcoming mayoral election.

“There is concern over holding the charter election the same day of the mayoral election,” Bricker stated. “Council has not adopted compensation guidelines for either form of government. This failure of action is likely to impact the candidate pool for mayor. Furthermore, the candidates for mayor, based on their vision, experience, qualification and platform will most definitely impact citizens’ judgment for supporting one form of government over the other.

Bricker stated that the form of government for the city should be considered and voted on independent of any current or prospective candidate for mayor.

“I recommend that charter elections that propose any change of government should not be held the same date as the mayoral election,” Bricker stated.

The final item brought up in the veto statement concerned the mayor’s veto itself.

“The changes reflected in the ordinance abolishes the mayor’s veto,” Bricker stated. “This is surprising since it was not proposed by either of the last two city charter commissions. The mayor’s veto allows an opportunity for the head of government to communicate with significance their objections to ordinances or resolutions.”

Bricker cited the veto of the Schulman Theater Project.

“Despite requests for information on the terms of the agreement, there was little information shared with the mayor’s office. The veto was utilized to highlight this lack of information and allowed public communication of concerns. Despite the veto often being overturned, it is still a highly effective tool to communicate the mayor’s concerns from the city’s chief elected officer.”

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